This advertisement was published by the makeup brand Too Faced, which is a subsidiary of the third largest cosmetics corporation in the world, Estee Lauder. This corporation has dozens of subsidiary companies which allow for it to have such a large market share. Too Faced in particular presents itself as a female-empowering, sex-positive, and almost in a contradictory manner, child-like brand. This is a thin veneer that the Estee Lauder Companies uses to give the illusion of progressive ideology, but in reality is merely a sub-section of a private tyranny who operates in third world countries under horrific conditions. In this advertisement, they are attempting to sell not only a makeup product, but a false reality to their consumers. They are utilizing the popular contemporary electronic dance music (EDM) aesthetic through a play on the acronym “P.L.U.R.”, which stands for peace love unity respect, in order to evoke the feelings of pleasure associated with music festival culture. In order to further this false idealistic reality, Too Faced has created a theme of fantasy through a rainbow colour scheme and pastel colours which have a nostalgic, child-like quality to it. The ad itself seems to be targeted at the prime marketing demographic of 18-34, as it conjures memories of My Little Pony and Barbie that would relate to this age group in their childhood years, juxtaposing it with the current popular EDM subculture which this same age range now identifies with. The reason why they choose to play on these two themes is because they both signify a disillusionment with reality and instead offer childhood nostalgia and the promise of the pleasure-infused experience of music festivals as an escapist tactic. As 46% of Canadians are $200 away from being financially insolvent, the current political economy is dependent on people buying into these fantasies rather than recognizing the crises facing our world. Furthermore, Estee Lauder, the corporation who owns this subsidiary company uses child labour to mine the shimmering pigments used in their eyeshadows, ironically taking away the childhood of Indian children and endangering them while simultaneously using the idea of childhood nostalgia as a marketing tool.
First, I crossed out “Too Faced” and replaced it with “Estee Lauder Companies” (ELC) as Estee Lauder is the parent corporation which controls this brand and dozens of others. Brands are used to give the illusion of choice within society, when in reality large corporations such as ELC dominate the “free” market. The subsidiary Too Faced is tailored to the specific market niche of progressively minded cosmetic enthusiasts and consumers, which masks that the true ownership is antithetical to that ideology. The tagline “life’s a festival, peace love & unicorns” has been replaced with “life’s a corporation, consolidation, exploitation and indoctrination” in order to illuminate the fact that although they claim to be selling you an experience, they are simply selling you a commodified corporate product aimed to prey on your childhood nostalgia and dreams of living a care-free, festival-esque lifestyle. Corporations like ELC dominate the market through consolidation by owning multiple companies under the parent company. Furthermore, by putting a large majority of the other subsidiary companies that reside under the umbrella of ELC in the rainbow which branches out of the tag line, it shows the extent of the consolidation of market share. Exploitation of child labourers in India for mining mica, a mineral found in this set of make-up, is used in order to maximize profits while attempting to sell a false reality and identity to its consumers in order to encourage them to continue buying their products. The corporate structure itself is a private tyranny, and the illustration of the CEO of Estee Lauder sitting on the shoulder of the model shows how he is ultimately at the helm of decision making for the corporation, getting paid over 1,000 times more than his average employee. Due to this concentration of wealth and power at the top of the third largest cosmetics corporation, this CEO has an undue influence over the career of the young model in the ad whilst at the same time exploiting her image for the corporation’s bottom line. Lastly, I emphasized that this corporation exploits child slaves in India in order to mine the minerals used in their products through adding a disclaimer which reads, “Glitter in cosmetics brought to you by… Indian children” in the top left-hand corner.